RIPLEY - The Ripley Central School Board of Education approved a budget for the 2013-14 school year that reduces the tax levy by 1.7 percent.
Board member Ted Rickenbrode said the budget of $8,370,065 contains the "lowest tax rate in eight years."
He noted the process used was more difficult this year because planners had to begin with two budgets prior to the public vote on tuitioning students in grades seven through 12 to Chautauqua Lake Central School.
The proposed tax rate translates into a tax of $28.24 per $1,000 of assessed value. The budget also takes $200,000 from the district's fund balance. Superintendent Karen Krause said the district anticipated future reductions at the end of the school year, since this was a "transitional year."
The budget will face a public vote on May 21.
Board President Robert Bentley asked what will happen if the budget is not approved by the public.
District Business Administrator Louann Bahgat responded the district would have to revert to "contingency budget." Under state law, this would be the budget from the prior year, which would eliminate the tax decrease.
Krause reported several organizations have taken tours of the building to explore the possibility of renting space from the district. Ripley town officials have met with her twice to consider using the wing on the State Street side, and representatives from Ripley Free Library are considering renting space in the north wing, she said.
In a related matter, Principal Lauren Ormsby presented a transitional timeline for preparing students to attend Chautauqua Lake in the coming year.
Administrators from Ripley and CLCS have met several times, she said. Coaches from Chautauqua Lake football and other sports have begun to meet with players from Ripley, and the student councils from both schools have planned meetings, she said.
Ormsby said the meetings have been positive and productive.
"When we go over there, they are making amazing suggestions," she said. "They have been impressed with our students and said they were mature and asked excellent questions."
Ormsby said a series of shadow days are set up. Students will sign up in groups of 10 to go to Chautauqua Lake, where each will be assigned to a student for the day. The band director from CLCS has also asked to have a band performance at Ripley to interest students in joining, she said.
Krause reported the school calendar will soon be completed. There will be slight changes in holiday vacations, and school will be in session on Feb. 14, 2014, even though grades seven through 12 will stay home because Chautauqua Lake will not have school that day.